News / Europe

On The Scene: Daniel Schearf in Kyiv

On The Scene: Daniel Schearf in Kyiv, Ukrainei
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March 07, 2014 6:28 PM
Ukrainian reaction to the Crimean parliament voting to become part of the Russian Federation is split. Moscow's de facto occupation of the majority ethnic-Russian Crimea sparked protests and counter-protests across Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Daniel Schearf
— Russia's moves to take Crimea are not going down well in the Ukrainian capital.

Although the two countries are historically united, Moscow's efforts to make Crimea part of Russia are a hostile takeover, says Olena, a lawyer in Kyiv.

"Our people have a right to our own state and the right to laws created and ratified according to the judicial mentality of the Ukrainian people,” she said. “Therefore, I consider Russia now is encroaching on our state, our sovereignty, violates all sorts of interests of the Ukrainian people in bringing in its troops and by force attempts to coerce us into becoming Russian citizens."

The Moscow-backed Crimean parliament voted Thursday to join the Russian Federation.

It plans a referendum to back it up on March 16 among Crimea's pro-Russia majority, like Vika.

"I fully support the Crimean government in all its actions and I consider them to be absolutely lawful,” she said. “I support them and I will vote to split with Ukraine in the referendum."

The United States, Europe, and Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, declared the Crimean vote illegal. On Friday, Turchynov signed a decree canceling the planned referendum.

"I have stopped the parliament of Crimea's decision,” Turchynov said. “The parliament of Ukraine will initiate the dismissal of the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. We will protect the inviolability of our territory. We will protect the sovereignty of our country. I'm sure that the Ukrainian citizens that live in the territory of Crimea will support this by all possible means.”

But Russia is firmly in control of Crimea and refuses to recognize the transitional government of Ukraine, which it labels extremist and anti-Russian.

Meanwhile, protesters are still camped out in Kyiv's Independence Square, where memorials honor those killed last month in clashes with riot police.

The protests were sparked in November after President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly pulled out of a trade deal with the EU for closer ties with Russia.

He fled to Russia to avoid charges from the deaths, was voted out of office, and then Russian troops quickly took over Crimea.

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